AbaY Bridge Press Release

Washington — One year after the devastating December 2004 tsunami and earthquake that struck the Indian Ocean region, the United States has provided emergency services as well as economic assistance to restore livelihoods to the people in affected South Asian countries.

The U.S. government has provided more than $150 million in assistance to communities in Sri Lanka and India for relief and reconstruction efforts, according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).


U.S. assistance programs in Sri Lanka have addressed a broad range of needs. The United States obligated $134.6 million toward projects for infrastructure, technical assistance to revive livelihoods and good governance.

A USAID project has replaced a damaged bridge at the mouth of Arugam Bay in eastern Sri Lanka. This bridge is critical to the reconstruction and rehabilitation of coastal communities, which are dependent on tourism and have been underdeveloped due to local conflict.

New projects under way also include rehabilitating community markets and roads and restoring access to drinking water. According to USAID, 187,870 people have received sanitation supplies and more than 220,000 have benefited from water projects. In carrying out these projects, USAID says it has brought people together from diverse communities to work cooperatively for the common good.

Psychological and social programs have become extremely important for communities still living in transitional shelters. More than 11,000 children, teens and adults in Sri Lanka have benefited from programs supported by USAID.

One such program involves 50 tsunami-displaced communities on the east coast. These communities have formed child well-being committees that administer specially designated “child-centered spaces” in the camps to provide psychological and social support for young people. More than 400 volunteers have been trained on problem identification, communication, stress and working with children, USAID reports.

According to estimates from the Asian Development Bank, Sri Lanka suffered $1 billion in overall damage and losses equivalent to 4 percent of its gross domestic product due to the tsunami. USAID has helped Sri Lanka participate in trade shows and mount advertising campaigns in Europe to help revitalize tourism, an important segment of the economy.

USAID has funded cash-for-work programs, on-the-job training and small loans. According to the agency, more than 43,630 people have received assistance through economic restoration projects and 17,500 have benefited from small business and livelihood grants.

In the Matara district, USAID has provided more than 1,200 small entrepreneurs, farmers and fishermen with technical assistance, working capital, materials and equipment for enterprises in textile production, fish processing, yam cultivation and other cottage industries.

“USAID also assisted 36 local governments, whose capacities were stretched to the limits, with information technology and telecommunications equipment and training,” a USAID fact sheet said.

Turning to governance, USAID has funded community participation programs in 10 areas to train local government officials, community representatives and staff from civil society organizations.

USAID recently began a partnership with Geneva Global Foundation, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), to provide $3 million in funding for at least 65 social and local development projects. The projects will focus on aid to vulnerable families, youth and children, improving health and combating human trafficking and domestic abuse.


USAID has budgeted $17.9 million for its programs in India where it is focusing on providing shelter, water, sanitation, cash-for-work programs and coastal management plans to mitigate the effect of future disasters.

“While permanent homes are being built, many of those displaced remain in temporary settlements,” a USAID fact sheet reports. “USAID works to keep the conditions in the settlements decent and healthy. This includes improving latrines, clean water and solid waste management as well as providing better ventilation, weatherproofing and recreational services.”

Through USAID reconstruction programs, more than 100,000 people have better access to clean water and shelter.

In the area of revitalizing livelihoods, a USAID project has helped more than 300 fisherman in the coastal district of Nagapattinam repair more than 170 boats, 232 boating engines and 200 fishing nets through a cash-for-work program. With these newly restored resources, the fishermen have been able to start fishing again, USAID reports.

USAID also is funding numerous training and educational facilities in India as part of its program for economic recovery. One such center has been erected in the Pondicherry district, where villagers including 36 young girls have been able to obtain diplomas in computer applications.

With USAID support, the Dalit community in the village of Thenapattinam in the Nagapattinam district has developed livestock commerce as an alternative source of income after the tsunami devastated agriculture. Previously, the community depended on agricultural labor for income but heavy sand deposits from the tsunami left their land unsuitable for farming.

With help from a local NGO, womenA?a??E?s groups have formed a revolving fund to finance livestock-related activities. Livestock is bought and distributed among the members and each member has been given a small grant to cover shed, fodder, vaccination and insurance costs. The women have started selling milk from their cows to the local cooperative, providing much needed income.

“Villagers and local authorities are working with USAID to improve disaster preparedness in over 22,000 of IndiaA?a??E?s most vulnerable coastal villages,” a USAID fact sheet reports.

USAID also helped establish city-to-city partnerships with Florida cities, recently recovered from similar catastrophes, to bring U.S. city managers and their Indian counterparts together to identify where they best can contribute to municipal recovery operations, the agency reports.

For additional information on U.S. assistance efforts, see U.S. Response to Tsunami.

Created:30 Dec 2005 Updated: 30 Dec 2005

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